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Project director: Dinerstein
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FT-58154-10

Joel Norman Dinerstein
Tulane University (New Orleans, LA 70118-5698)

The Mask of Cool: Jazz, Film Noir, and Existentialism in Postwar America

This is an interdisciplinary cultural study of the origins of cool in the postwar arts. In jazz, film noir, and existential narrative, cool meant a certain stylish stoicism as projected through attitude, style, language, and artistic sensibility. Cool was a masculine pose, a response to economic trauma, a sign of African-American culture, and a password for rebellion. In the wake of the failure of collective political ideologies, the mask of cool was a physical marker for the recuperation of individualism. African-American cool signaled the rejection of "Uncle Tomming" and found its artistic form in long jazz solos and musicians' blank faces. White male cool was a working-class response to the instability of the Great Depression and found its artistic reflection in film noir. French existential cool was a response to the trauma of Nazi occupation and found its artistic form in the apotheosis of the individual in its literary and philosophical texts.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
U.S. History

Program:
Summer Stipends

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2010 – 9/30/2010